Month: February 2017

Formative Student Self-Assessment, Mar. 2017

Instructors often spend a great deal of time designing and grading assessments and administering surveys aimed at objectively measuring student learning.  Though such objective assessments are necessary, don’t lose sight of the value of asking students to consider what THEY are doing to achieve success in the course.

We’ve all had students ask, “Why did you give me this grade?” as if they played no role in the outcome.  A better question might be, “Why did my work warrant this grade?” or “What can/should I do differently next time?”  Students may not even think to reflect on how their own actions facilitate or impede their learning; a few well-timed questions could encourage them to think more critically about themselves as learners.  Consider asking questions like these:

  • How much time are you putting into your preparation each week?
  • Do you do readings in advance of the classroom presentation/discussion?
  • Do you participate in discussion?
  • Do you give the contributions of other students your serious attention?
  • Have you talked to the instructor on a one-on-one basis?
  • After your most recent exam, did you reconsider your study strategies?

Challenging students to reflect on and take responsibility for their learning helps focus their energies in a productive and mature direction.

Much of this information comes courtesy of Professor Jean Givens; contact her to learn how she uses this technique in her classroom.

Activate your NCFDD Support Program

Have you activated your NCFDD (National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity) account yet?  If you do, you’ll find great resources, including webinars and videos on topics like

  • How to balance parenting and productivity: A realistic approach for faculty with young children
  • How to develop a daily writing process
  • Writing science: How to write papers that get cited and proposals that get funded

UConn has an institutional membership, so sign up today!  Membership Includes:

  • The Monday Motivator (weekly productivity email)
  • Access to monthly core curriculum and guest expert webinars and multi-week courses
  • Access to the Career Center
  • Recordings of all previous webinars
  • Access to moderated monthly writing challenges and monthly mentor matches
  • Discounted Faculty Success Program registration
  • Free access to online accountability and tracking software to alumni of the Faculty Success Program

How to activate your membership:

  1. Click this link: University of Connecticut.
  2. Create a username and password and enter your institutional e-mail address (i.e., to expedite your registration.
  3. Complete the registration process.

You will receive a welcome e-mail within 2 business days confirming that your account is active and that you can access the NCFDD resources.  If you have questions about this program, please contact CETL.

Formative Mid-Semester Assessments, Feb. 2017

Do you wonder how your students are responding to your course this semester?

Consider administering a formative assessment to gather mid-semester feedback that you can use to improve your teaching while your course is underway.  Formative assessment can help you recognize when your students are struggling and enable you to address problems in the middle of the semester.

Many instructors choose to create and administer their own surveys, student self-assessments, or feedback forms.  CETL, in conjunction with OIRE, also offers you the option to have a mid-semester survey sent directly to your students.  See more about the surveys here, where you may choose the appropriate survey for your course.  Unlike end-of-semester student evaluations of teaching, mid-semester surveys are optional, and the results are completely confidential.  You can use these formative assessments privately, or you may decide to share them with your department head, along with the resulting course modifications, and include the same in your teaching portfolio.

Results of these surveys can provide you with valuable opportunities for reflection and course improvement, and studies show that when students know that you intend to use the results to improve your course immediately, response rates are typically high and the students’ critiques are carefully thought-out.

Please request yours here no later than March 10, 2017.  Contact CETL if you would like to learn more about formative assessment or arrange for consultations or classroom observations.

Maintain Academic Integrity in Writing Assignments, Feb. 2017

Academic Integrity in Writing Assignments

Most undergraduates at UConn have taken a First-Year Writing course, and they should be well versed in the procedures for properly incorporating researched information into their papers, yet experience warns us that—whether they are freshmen or seniors—several students need refreshers on this topic.  For example, students typically know that they must cite direct quotations, but many are not so sure about citing material they have paraphrased or summarized from outside sources.

Review the Guidelines and Provide Resources—In order to mitigate any confusion, consider using class time to review your course’s citation style and the UConn library’s Plagiarism Resources, familiarize students with UConn’s Plagiarism Policies, and emphasize the consequences of committing plagiarism in your course; maybe even ask your students to complete this Quick Tutorial or this interactive Plagiarism Module.  Note that students can also work with tutors in the Writing Center if they have any questions about information literacy or academic integrity in writing.  The Writing Center provides walk-in sessions and appointments.

Use HuskyCT Tools—Don’t forget about the option to have students submit their papers via SafeAssign on HuskyCT.  SafeAssignments deter students from committing plagiarism and help you to identify plagiarism in papers.  SafeAssign compares submitted assignments against a set of academic papers to identify areas of overlap between the submitted assignment and existing works.  SafeAssign is effective as both a deterrent and an educational tool: Use SafeAssign to review assignment submissions for originality and create opportunities to help students identify how to properly attribute sources rather than paraphrase.  See this Information on Using SafeAssign.  SafeAssign itself probably shouldn’t be used as the final arbiter in making a determination about plagiarism; it’s a helpful tool, but an experienced teacher is still the best final judge.

Know your Roles and Responsibilities—It is very important to work with the Office of Community Standards to follow appropriate procedures for academic misconduct. The Academic Integrity FAQ page clarifies the instructor’s role in maintaining academic integrity at UConn; visit the Community Standards Academic Misconduct Procedure Review to learn more.  You can also find information about your roles and responsibilities regarding misconduct in the Academic Integrity/Misconduct section of the Faculty and Staff Resource Guide.

Contact Community Standards if you have questions about these procedures.